Antioch will seek an alternative to the military surplus tactical vehicle
The Antioch Police Department’s armored rescue vehicle – originally produced to help troops survive explosives set off in Iraq and Afghanistan – will remain in the force until an alternative can be found.
Although no formal action was taken on Tuesday because no resolution was included in the agenda, the consensus among members of the Antioch City Council was to decommission the surplus vehicle protected from ambush, find an alternative and develop a policy on its use.
Demilitarizing the force was one of the police reform goals the council set for itself in 2021. In March of that year, the council agreed that the city would no longer accept surplus military equipment for his police department. Later that year, Assembly Bill 481, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, would require law enforcement agencies to establish policies and obtain approval from their governing bodies for military equipment and military type.
On Tuesday, Mayor Lamar Thorpe said he doesn’t think the police department needs MRAP, a stance he also took two years ago.
“There are alternatives to this tank, and I know the (police) chief is open to that because we’ve had this conversation, but I’m open to looking at some of them and he’s looked at some of them,” said Thorp. . “I don’t think we need it, because MRAP was designed for something completely different. It was not designed for the streets of Antioch. The police are not trained in MRAPs.
The mayor added that the “appearance” of this militarized equipment was bad, especially given the recent investigation by the FBI concerning the police force.
“I just disagree that it looks good, in terms of the kind of police department we’re trying to build and where we need to go,” he said. “I think there is simply no place for militarized equipment on our streets. … I hope the council can accept this because I think we need an alternative to the tank.
Police Lt. Joseph Vigil, who reported on the department’s military equipment usage for 2022, agreed.
“Yes, we would also like to consider an alternative that is where we are in the company right now and enters the 21st century,” Vigil told the board. “We would like a piece of equipment that reflects that. So if the board is open to us, we would love to do that.
Councilman Mike Barbanica, a former Pittsburgh police officer, suggested assigning a few council members to research alternatives, but the mayor said the police department could handle it.
“If the board is considering getting rid of the vehicle, there are armored vehicles that are there to keep the officers and our community safe,” Barbanica said.
Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker agreed that the city does not need a militarized vehicle like the MRAP, but acknowledged that some sort of protected vehicle was needed to keep the public safe, especially in the hostage situations. This will come at a cost, however, she noted.
Vigil, however, pointed out that grants are often available.
“Many manufacturers of armored cars based on police-specific vehicles have grant programs and financial assistance,” he said. “We will be prepared to explore all options in the best interests of the city and the community.”
In nearby Brentwood, the city council months earlier unanimously agreed to spend $367,907 on a non-military-grade armored vehicle – its first ever – after police explained how it could help protect officers and others during crisis situations. The money for the ARV – a Lenco MedEvac G2 – would come from the department’s operating budget.
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